Housebound wildlife observances
With more time spent at ye old homestead these days, I’m able to study visiting wildlife close-up. When the temps of summer hover somewhere between fire and blast furnace, I hibernate anyway.
This year is no different in that regard. See what a positive spin I’m choosing during this time of obtuse understanding and ethereal reality? Huh?
Although it may seem like I’m constantly jet-setting all over the valley, the truth is I’m home with Oliver the cat and all my wildlife friends most days.
Take this morning for example, I enjoyed watching two does, one with twin fawns — the norm for mature does — tip-hoofing through my yard without fretting. Now, Ken, my neighbor with the chicken, runs them out of his yard because they have a particular fondness for his roses. He needs to train FYC (front yard chicken) to run them off like she does the crows.
I was able to watch as the babies nursed until mom said she had enough and hopped over their heads, leaving them with stunned looks on their faces.
Then my maintenance crew pulled in with blowers and mowers, and I knew my magical wildlife moment had come to an end. I was concerned for their safety, as they crossed my busy residential street where most drivers are apparently dyslexic and read the 25 mph sign as 52. I hope they have a doctor’s excuse handy, the drivers that is. I hope the deer have medic alert buttons.
The deer cross to get to the other side, and to fetch a drink of water from the creek. I saw cars stopping as the foursome made their way safely this time. I phoned the city of Eagle Point public works department and told them we needed a deer crossing sign or a slow-down sign, or maybe spike strips.
They haven’t returned my call.
I don’t mind deer in my yard because I have nothing to lose. A few years ago, I confessed my ineptitude in the area of gardening, despite having green thumb genes. A couple of you may remember how the local deer population exploited my lack of agricultural knowledge by trampling on and nibbling my best efforts. It’s also possible you read about it in my book, “Trips & Tangents: 101 Favorite Southern Oregon Journal Columns.” Hey, I haven’t plugged it lately. It just so happens I still have a few. Email me if you’d like to buy a genuine, personalized, signed copy.
Anyway, I decided the best plan was to put away my tomato cages and bird netting, (which the deer took for bedding material), and grow weeds instead. Weeds provide nectar for bees and butterflies, after all, and the local deer population, which seems to be growing exponentially during this downturn in human activity. They avail themselves as they amble through, though deer are a distant second to goats in weed-eating, they don’t amble through but do charge for their services.
There have been as many as five bucks at one time, lying down and shooting the bull in my backyard. One year, a sweet young buck ate freely of the birdseed below the feeders — the dross left after the sparrows’ pillaging. As a thank you, he eventually left me not one but both of his antler sheds. They are pristine and beautiful.
Sermonette: I DO NOT feed the deer anything other than what greenery they discover in their foraging. Feeding deer is bad — for the deer and people. Deer that become dependent on humans develop an unnatural lifestyle, sort of like some people I know, with too many congregating in one location and acquiring diseases and pests. They may become more aggressive, especially does with young around.
I’d planned to talk about wild turkeys, feral cats, and the neighbor chicken, any of which I might see looking in my front window on any given day, but I’m out of room again.
Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org